Tyler McGuire (10-0) is the latest welterweight addition to the ONE Championship roster, and on Friday, 13 July, he expects to turn heads in his promotional debut by defeating a veteran contender.
The 32-year-old American has a unique background, which could be the perfect preparation for success. Before he clashes with the Brazilian, learn a little bit more about the unbeaten hero.
Inspired By Family
McGuire was born and raised in Iowa, USA by a single mother. She was only 18 when he was born, and he says she was one of his first major inspirations. She tirelessly worked a factory job to provide for her son, and encouraged him to be the best version of himself.
“She was awesome,” he beams. “She is still awesome. She is still a huge support to me.”
In addition to his mother, McGuire has always looked to emulate the work ethic of his grandfather, who worked as a dispatcher and also maintained the family farm.
“He got up every morning at 4am to take care of the farm,” McGuire explains. “Then he worked eight hours, and he would come home and do the same thing the next day. His work ethic was second to none.”
For McGuire, this translated into competitive sports – he played everything from soccer to American football – and the military, when he joined the Air Force in 2012. He is currently a Staff Sergeant who teaches in the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) program.
Building A New Goal
McGuire remembers a time soon after graduating from Iowa Wesleyan University when his competitive spirit was still burning, but he needed a new outlet for it.
“I was working out, but I did not really have a carrot, if you will,” he says.
He discovered something to work towards thanks to his then-girlfriend, now wife. In 2009, she introduced him to her cousin, Gabe Lemley, who trained at the world-famous Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf, Iowa, and competed professionally in mixed martial arts.
“I thought: ‘That is something I always wanted to try – just to have one mixed martial arts bout to say that I did it,’” McGuire says.
He promptly started his training. Three months later, he had his first amateur match.
“I won in a minute,” he recalls. “I was like: ‘That is three months of training for one minute of action, so I will do one more and see how it goes.’”
A few months later, he had his second victory, which also only took about a minute. McGuire was then offered a title match on two days’ notice, and won again. He built a 6-0 amateur record before taking time off to join the Air Force.
His job brought him to Spokane, Washington, where he met his current coach – Sik-Jitsu Fighting Systems‘ Rick Little – who encouraged him to take the next step in his career.
“He told me I was ready to go pro. I did not really believe him, but I did turn pro, and here we are,” McGuire says.
Since making his professional debut in August 2015, he has racked up a spotless 10-0 record with eight victories in the first round. Along the way, he claimed the Extreme Challenge and Excite Fight Welterweight Championships.
Autistic Kids Rock!
Every time McGuire competes, he wears an “Autistic Kids Rock!” shirt, which represents his time working with autistic children in the Iowa school system.
Teaching has been one of the American’s passions since he took a college survey course in special education.
“Working with the kids and seeing the impact you could make drove me into that,” he explains.
McGuire helped to create one of the first programs in Iowa that serves children on the autistic spectrum, and it still operates to this day. He continues to check in with the parents of the students, and one of them gave him the shirt that he wears to the cage.
“We are on a platform, so why not use it for good?” he says.
“It seems like every single bout I have, a mother, brother, father, cousin, or somebody comes up and tells me how much it means to them to see that there are people out there spreading awareness. That is really important to me. That is what I am trying to do. As a Christian, our job is to do good.”
The Road To ONE
When he was offered the chance to face Santos at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, he jumped at the opportunity to compete for an organization that reflects his values.
“I have a lot of respect for what ONE wants to do. I do not feel like I have to be somebody I am not to progress. I just try to be a humble guy that brings his lunch pail to work, and goes to work,” the American says.
Now, with a huge opportunity in front him, the Staff Sergeant is primed to give ONE fans an exciting performance in Kuala Lumpur.
“ONE was gracious enough to extend me a contract, so I want to put on a show for them,” he says.